Avoiding Implementation Failure for your Small Business Manufacturing Software
This post is for manufacturers with small businesses or medium sized companies. The following is written by Passport Software’s manufacturing consultant Dave Dorsey. We hope you find this information useful:
More and more smaller manufacturers are investing in small business manufacturing software each year. Unfortunately, an astounding number of these investments end in a failed implementation. Let’s explore why this happens and how you can minimize the changes of having this happen to you.
One of the key contributors to failure is lack of planning. It’s kind of ironic, one of the main reasons companies purchase such a system is to help them gain better control over planning everything from finances, to inventory, to the shop floor. Yet, they fail to properly plan for the implementation of their manufacturing system.
It’s a good idea to approach a system implementation much like you would approach starting a new business. You should first write an implementation plan. This may closely resemble a business plan. Your implementation plan should specify your goals, set rough times for achievement of them, and finally, it should define how you plan to achieve them. Defining such a plan can start you down the path to success.
You should be careful to set attainable goals. Very often the implementation manager/team will set goals based on what upper management wants to hear not what the implementation team and the company is capable of achieving. More often than not, over ambitious goals lead to frustrated employees, dissatisfaction with the system, and can doom the implementation project all together.
On the other hand, achievable goals can help keep the staff motivated because they always feel as though they’re accomplishing something. They don’t get the feeling of constant failure by falling short of achieving their goals. This can lead to better attitudes and less overall resistance to change. Eliminating this resistance is most of the battle.
This actually goes hand in hand with setting goals. You should decide where you would like to be in your implementation project after 30 days, 60 days, 90 days and so on until your implementation is complete. You should establish an aggressive time schedule so the project doesn’t get stagnant but need to make sure isn’t too aggressive and unrealistic.
Draw a map
Once the goals are set, and you’ve established the time frame in which these goals should be completed, you need to map out how you plan to achieve these goals. Assign different phases of the plan to specific employees or implementation groups. Be sure you select the most positive people to lead your project. There’s no place for negative attitudes in this phase.
Everyone should be held to the plan. As long as it’s well thought out, deviation should be avoided as much as possible. Deviate from the plan once or twice and there’s a reasonable chance the plan will end up bogging down which can result in failure. If deviation is necessary, it should be discussed and decided on as a group. The written plan should then be changed to reflect the change and the impact on tasks further along in the project.
You may choose to create a chart that lists each department’s goals and the target date for achieving them. Each department can mark up their date of completion of their “goals” on the chart. This can serve two purposes:
1. It gives the department public recognition for achieving their goals on time.
2. It serves as a motivator as it often becomes a bit of a competition amongst departments to achieve their goals first.
Your plan may be done internally or you may choose to incorporate the assistance of a software/business consultant. Direct involvement in defining your plan is crucial. Relying solely on a third party to design your plan can create problems. Ask yourself the following question, “Who knows your business best?” The answer is very simple – you!
At the same time, a good consultant, preferably with previous experience with the small business manufacturing software of your choice, can be a valuable asset. They know the system already and know how to apply it to various types of manufacturing companies. With this knowledge, they can assist you in defining a good implementation plan based on your needs. They can also help you set management’s expectations and can assist you in executing the plan.
Setting expectations is very important for both management and the employees expected to use your new system. Explain the benefits of the new system, estimate when these benefits are expected to be realized and to what extent. Setting these correctly can virtually eliminate disappointment when the project is complete.
Finally, remember this one point as you approach your small business manufacturing software implementation. An information system is more than software and computers, it’s also people. In fact, the people are the backbone of the system. Without them, there is no system. Everyone involved needs to understand this and needs to understand how important they are to the success of the project. Get the users involved and let them provide input during your planning. This will give them the feeling of control and should keep them more engaged in the process.
While there is no-sure fire method that will guarantee a successful system implementation every time, good planning can greatly enhance your chances of achieving success.
Learn more about our small business manufacturing software for small and medium sized companies. Or contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-969-7900 x145.
Dave has been involved with business software for 30 years and manufacturing software since 1995. During this time, he has had the opportunity to work with hundreds of manufacturers, who’ve made a variety of products in many different ways.